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ERIC Number: ED458667
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Nov-22
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Re-Discovering the American Public Forum: The Role of Academic Debate.
Weiss, Robert O.
After a long period of substantial academic assault, the ideal of democracy as "government by the people" is undergoing renewal and re-evaluation. Jurgen Habermas's persistent exploration of the conditions which make rational discussion of public affairs and democratic decision-making possible has generated numerous concepts that may be operationalized in public forum activity. Even the enclave of students of public opinion is moving beyond the mere tabulation of discrete individual attitudes to recognize communal thought patterns and the important role of deliberation in the formation of public opinion. A study on formal academic debate is concerned with the present and potential activities institutionalized and supported on a co-curricular basis beyond normal disciplinary classroom routines. Keeping in mind the nature of American public forum activity as a pragmatic venture in furthering democracy and academic debate as an educational enterprise directed toward the same end, the study's purpose is two-fold: (1) How might academic debate contribute to the rediscovery of the American public sphere through its development of argumentative principles and practices appropriate for that end? and (2) How might academic debate contribute directly to this end by conducting public forum activities that draw university and community members into concrete involvement in public debate? After examining argumentation theory and theorists and the role of debate in the academic environment, the study suggests that academic debate can explore and develop theories and practices that will contribute to excellence and productivity of discourse in public life and that it may also put on debates that serve as models of civic discourse and provide at least one venue for the citizen participation so vital for democracy. (Contains 16 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A